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Friday, February 8, 2013
Is AL West the best division?

By Richard Durrett

ESPN.com's Jayson Stark took a look at the six divisions in baseball and ranked them. Here's how he did it:

I surveyed one baseball executive in all six divisions, including three who formerly worked for teams in the AL East. I also had Dan Szymborski project records for every team and every division in 2013. Then I did team-by-team, division-by-division power rankings. And, finally, I factored in payrolls, Vegas odds and all sorts of other data. So what's the answer?

Stark says the AL East has the best division. It has the most depth and, for the first time in a long time, the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees could be at or near the bottom of that division as it stacks up.

But what about the AL West? Stark puts them No. 2. You can blame the Houston Astros a bit for that as they drag the bottom of the division now. Here's what one executive told Stark about the AL West:

"I'd still put the AL West at No. 1," said one of the NL execs quoted earlier, "because the Angels are unbelievably talented, Texas is perennially really good, Oakland is really good, and Seattle, I think, is underrated. It drags them all down some that they could have a 115-loss team in their division. But the other teams are so good, I think it balances out."

I think you've also got a rivalry that is still coming into its own in the Rangers vs. Angels. Unlike last season, we'll get our first taste of that one in the home-opening series for Texas in early April (they didn't see each other until mid-May last year). Consider the amount of money the Angels are spending and how they scooped up former Rangers C.J. Wilson and Josh Hamilton the past few years (and how the Rangers beat out the Angles on Adrian Beltre) and it's got the makings of a really good rivalry for a really long time.

The A's won the division last year and are young. They should only continue to get better. The Mariners have a few pieces here and there. The Astros are a long way from contending, but every division team gets the same edge in playing them.

It's not difficult to imagine that two playoff teams -- again -- come from the AL West, is it? It may not be quite as deep as the AL East, but it's just as competitive in my mind. What do you think?